Take a moment to consider how you respond to stress; do you go for an extra glass of wine or stay up a little longer to watch TV? One study shared by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that the way you react to stress may increase the likelihood that you’ll experience insomnia, not the stress itself.
Published in the journal Sleep, the study was conducted by researchers in Detroit, Michigan at the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at the Henry Ford Hospital. 2,892 of volunteers who slept well and didn’t have a history of insomnia were used to obtain the results.
The volunteers reported stressful events they had experienced within the last year and the perceived the duration and severity of them, including financial issues, serious illness, divorce or the death of a spouse, which were then used to establish a baseline. Coping strategies and cognitive intrusion (replaying thoughts about stressors) were also measured by the questionnaire to determine how each volunteer reacted in the 7 days following each stressful event.
After 1 year, each volunteer was followed up with to identify who had developed an insomnia disorder, which the researchers defined as experiencing insomnia symptoms at least 3 nights a week for a time period of 1 month or longer, with daytime impairment or distress.
The results showed that coping with stress by using behavioral disengagement, such as using alcohol or drugs, significantly increased the relationship between stress and insomnia development. Self-distraction, such as watching TV or going to the movies was also a major risk factor in experiencing insomnia symptoms. In addition, cognitive intrusion accounted for 69% of the total effect of stressful events leading to insomnia.
We all experience stress in life, but we have to keep in mind that how we respond does have an impact on our sleep and health. The research authors recommend that we try to practice mindfulness and other mediation techniques to boost sleep and stop replaying negative thoughts in our heads. To get started on becoming more mindful for better sleep, click here!